In 2002, Bourn Hall was the first IVF clinic to introduce an egg-sharing programme; this enabled a couple having treatment to donate some of their eggs to another woman in return for free IVF treatment.
Why is egg donation needed?
Some women have few or no eggs, perhaps as a result of their age, early menopause or a medical procedure and may require donated eggs. The eggs are fertilised with her partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) to produce an embryo, which is then transferred to the recipient’s womb and pregnancy continues as normal.
The eggs may come from an altruistic donor who does not require IVF treatment or from another patient who will understand first hand the challenges of infertility. Donation through a licenced clinic means that the birth mother is the legal parent of the baby.
In order to share eggs, the donor must be healthy and aged 34 or under. Eggs not required for the donor’s treatment are shared with another patient and the donor is given a free IVF treatment package in return.
Lucinda and Matthew’s story
Lucinda and Matthew felt fortunate to have their first child Edward through NHS funded IVF treatment.
Lucinda explains: “After giving birth to Edward in January 2012, I read about egg sharing and how sometimes women have to wait four years to receive a donated egg,”
“Having gone through IVF once myself – thankfully successfully – I knew that the process was hard enough on its own; let alone if you’ve got to first wait some indeterminable time period for someone to donate an egg. How would I feel if I had to wait 4 years before someone donated an egg to me?
“It made me realise that we were in a privileged position where we could help give another couple hope and ultimately, if treatment is successful, a child of their own.”
Hear from Matthew and Lucinda in the video above and find out more about egg sharing at Bourn Hall.
Bourn Hall Clinic offers egg sharing
Lucinda and Matthew contacted the hospital where they had their first round of IVF treatment but it didn’t offer an egg sharing service.
Matthew explains: “This was one reason why we changed to Bourn Hall and on seeing the clinic and realising it had such a friendly, relaxed atmosphere we knew it was the right place for us.”
Lucinda applied to join Bourn Hall’s egg sharing programme. The couple knew their infertility issue is male factor and the medical team were able to confirm that Lucinda met the criteria (healthy, aged 18 to 35 years old).
This time they were less optimistic that they would be successful and without NHS funding it would limit their chances.
“Once we had decided to go ahead with egg sharing, this did help to reduce the cost for our IVF treatment,” Matthew said. “This meant that if it did fail we could have funds to do it again, plus we were giving someone else the opportunity too. It was win-win.”
Emotional consequences of egg sharing
“We did talk long and hard about egg sharing, including the emotional impact and how donating would affect us if the other couple had a child and we didn’t,” Lucinda says.
“The counselling available was very good and supportive. Egg sharing was right for us but it depends on your circumstances.”
A baby brother
After ovarian stimulation, Lucinda produced 13 eggs – keeping 7 to be fertilised using Matthew’s sperm and donating 6 eggs to another woman.
Lucinda and Matthew successfully fell pregnant and in May 2014 baby Timothy was born – a baby brother for Edward.
Lucinda said: “It was a miracle that both our IVF treatments worked first time. I’m not sure if the lady receiving our donated eggs did successfully fall pregnant, but I’d certainly consider donating eggs again if it can help another couple become a family.”